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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Traveller Campaign Update: Fall of Gallifrey Edition

In today's session, the PCs were still doing the trippiest cosmic-flashback ever, living out the lives of long-dead Ancients.  They first got to see the final culmination of the world they'd been carefully guiding, the civilizations they were directing the evolution of, over 5000 years, reaching its fulfillment as "That planet of the empire that produces drawings of one square on top of another square".  Yes, the Ancients were so powerful that they dedicated unimaginable levels of time and resources to tailor-engineering a planet of cubists:

(there's no accounting for taste)

The governor of this whole sector, guiding light of countless worlds, scourge of the daleks and war-hero saviour of the Empire is this guy:

Half the PCs are working for him.  One of them is basically his chief henchman.

(you get to play the closest thing Traveller has to a Time Lord, and you still end up being this guy)

Now, this guy finally showed up too: a cameo, for like 5 seconds.

Then the Sun started to blow up.

The PCs pretty quickly figured out that it was actually the Master; not out of some kind of senseless evil but out of simple total disregard for lesser beings. He needed to blow up the sun to try to master space/time in order to defeat the high council and the other Antients if he was to become undisputed ruler of the galaxy, and the cubists meant nothing to him.

The PCs were then stuck in a race to get out of the system, but there was another twist: a subversive group on the planet revealed to a couple of the PCs that they'd stolen the secret uplift code that could turn any of them into the mental and psychic equivalent of Ancients.  When some of the others figured this out, they went and told the Master, and meanwhile had to decide (once the Master's plans became clear) whether they were going to be on the side of the Master, on the side of the High Council, or just in it for themselves.

There was a lot of secret conversations using this sort of thing:

And after a while, as the session progressed, it became less like Traveller and more like this:

With super-powerful near-immortal PCs vying with each other for power and survival in the ultimate contest of intrigue and guile, with the fate of the universe at stake.

It was awesome.

In the end, the PCs finally came out of it, back into the present and their real lives, and it became clear that the whole thing was some sort of test Grandfather Paradox made for them as some kind of test of character (though for what purpose remains unclear).

Now, Grandfather is there, and the Master is there, and they're about to blow each other all to shit, and maybe the PCs with them. Things ended, as usual, on a cliffhanger.


Currently Smoking:  Italian Redbark + Image Latakia

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

My Albion Books Have Arrived!

Astoundingly (because it was raining this morning, and one does not expect mail to be delivered in Uruguay if it rains even a little bit), today my Dark Albion author copies finally arrived!

That is, for the hardcovers.  And man do they look great!   Both the regular cover:

And the Variant cover:

Now, I was a huge proponent of the variant cover, and it is freaking gorgeous, but I do have to admit that in-person, the main cover is also extremely appealing.  I think that it is more appealing in a physical book than its computerized-image on jpg or pdf would really lead on.  In a book in your hands, the main cover really hits its stride.

Anyways, they're BOTH fantastic, and I strongly advise you to pick them up.  The hardcover is, I think, well worth it (if I say so myself)!  You can get them both from Lulu: the main cover here, and the variant cover here.


Currently Smoking: Italian redbark + Image Latakia

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Everyjoe Tuesday: Made-Up Conservatives Edition

The thing is, the right and the left have fundamentally different views on what "truth" is.  And that means that the right might sometimes make mistakes about what's true or not, might exaggerate the truth, or might just misinterpret the truth; but the left of these last few years has again and again proved that it doesn't have any problem with just outright making shit up.

That includes making up fake-conservatives for them to fight, both on paper, in (fake) personal redemption stories, and sometimes in literal cases of fraud.

Check out the link above for the article, and go comment, share, re-tweet or whatever else you do in social media.  Thanks!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Half-Volcano + Gawith's Balkan Flake

Monday, 27 July 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: First Influences

I read a comment today that I suspect is paraphrased from some famous quote, but I can't find the source for it; though I'm positive that in my academic years I had heard it somewhere. Basically it said this, on Christians: If they tend to base their Christianity on quoting the Gospels, they're fairly tolerable human beings. If they quote the Pauline Epistles then they're usually intolerable assholes, if they spend their time quoting Revelation, then they're utter and absolute nutcases.

I've found that to be generally true, and it got me to thinking also about the old Jesuit statement: "Give me a child before he's 7 and I'll give you a Catholic for life".

So our foundations determine what sources we will use to guide our perceptions, and our early experiences determine our foundations, which mark us for life.

I know from personal experience that these foundations can be "Undone"; but that its very difficult, and only pretty exceptional people making pretty exceptional efforts can overcome this.

Just as it is with religious instruction, so it is with RPGs. I think that our earliest experiences with RPGs probably mark us for life inasmuch as the rest of our career as "gamers" is concerned. Whatever our first gaming experiences are, those are the ones that in one form or another we are always trying to perfect or re-produce thereafter, or if we are on a rejection kick those are the foundations we are blindly thrashing against and trying to overthrow. Only those who come to terms with their origins and embrace them without being limited by them can really be free of them.

Am I free of my early influences? I think in many ways I am, of the negative aspects, but I have cleaved to the positive elements of those early influences.

My "early influences" would come down to three major sources: 

First, Basic D&D. The old red box. This game to me defined D&D, and defined what a good RPG should be; it also defined the "median" of my own personal rules-light/rules-heavy spectrum (ie. anything heavier than D&D basic is rules-heavy, anything lighter is "rules-light").

Second: Advanced Fighting Fantasy. This game was my first major influence for "rules light" and for simplicity, even before Amber. It was the first game that taught me not to rely entirely on rules as written, and to be ok with making some of it up as I go along, and looking at rules as suggestions and not ironclad structure. It also defined a lot of my sense of fun, since some of my first and most enjoyable campaigns were with "Dungeoneer". The world of Titan was my game world before I really got into Mystara or the Realms.

Third: Palladium's Robotech. This was the first major Sci-fi RPG I played. It certainly defined how I think a Mecha game should be. The rules didn't make a huge impact on me compared to D&D basic (if anything, the similarity between the systems just keyed me into the idea of the possibilities of universality), but the material and the construction of the rulesbooks defined a lot for me about what I would like from a gamebook, moreso than the other two sources. I like lots of good images, I like lots of cool stuff. And I'd rather have a sourcebook with a lot of usable material than a pretty sourcebook with a lot of useless crap stuffed in. Palladium's books are always chock-full of material that can be played with, say about them what you will.

Those were the three RPGs of my first two years as a gamer, and yes, I would say they did a lot to define me; both in the sense of defining what I like, and teaching me lessons about what can be better. And that's part of the trick too. If you look at it all dogmatically, you will only come away with a fixed dogma of what you want and end up with some massive blind spots about problems in games, that you will keep carrying with you.

Overall, I was pretty lucky. I'm not saying "brain damage" or anything like that, but its clear to me that people who's first RPGs were Vampire or other Story-based games will have some serious hurdles to overcome if they're going to be able to free themselves of the kinds of bad habits that create problems with enjoying RPGs as straightforward fun.


(Originally posted August 2, 2006)

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Postman Always Rings Twice... But Not For Albion

So I'm a guy who stays up really late when I'm at my peak working period.  Like, as in, I go to bed at dawn.

As such, I'm usually asleep when the mailman comes by.  Fortunately, I've instructed him that if I have a package, he should ring the doorbell and wait a bit as I'll probably be waking up, and he's very good about that.

So these last few days I've been eagerly waiting for the arrival of my author copies of Dark Albion.  I should have two potential packages about to arrive: the hardcovers from Lulu or the softcovers from Amazon.

I thought there was a chance Friday would be the day.  So I wasn't shocked when the doorbell rang, and I got up fairly fast to get it... only to find that it wasn't Albion at all. Instead, it was a review copy of the Day Trippers rulebook and Gamemaster's guide; which looks kind of interesting but (and this is no burn on the game itself, which obviously I haven't even started to read yet and thus have no judgment on yet) I was certainly disappointed at what it wasn't.

So back to bed I went.

I was lost for a time in a fugue of sleep, and suddenly get woken up by the doorbell, again.  I was surprised, I wasn't expecting anyone else.  Through the intercom I mumble a demand to know who it is, and I hear "package delivery" on the other side.  I'm surprised, but this is not unheard of, and so again I rush through the courtyard of The Abbey and to the front gate, where the delivery guy has a thick looking package for me... could this be it?

No.  I was doomed to be disappointed, for a second time.  Only this time, and again no offense to Day Trippers, I was a little more blown away.  The game I got woken up for the second time that day was called Walkure. It's another Spanish RPG; the authors having asked if they could send me a review copy after my review of Puerta de Ishtar was enormously successful at drawing attention to this game in the English-speaking part of the hobby.  And holy crap, I don't know what's up with the Spanish-RPG crowd these days, but fuck is the production quality impressive.

The book is thick, and in stunning full-color.

I haven't read it yet either, of course, but it is apparently based on an alternate-history where the second world war ended in a kind of draw, and now you have Nazis, the U.S., the Soviets, and the British Empire duking it out in space, or something along those lines.

I don't know yet if the game is any good, but it's made by the guys who did Marca del Este, Spain's own OSR box-set game inspired by BECMI, which got translated into Adventures in the East Mark.  So it'll probably be at least decent.  And I can already say it's gorgeous.

In spite of all that, I still wish it had been my Albion books...  I'm off to bed now, but there's no mail delivery on Sunday.  In this country, you're lucky if there's mail delivery three days a week. Here's hoping for Monday (though Tuesday is more plausible; mailmen often take Monday off, especially if they deigned to actually work on Friday).


Currently Smoking: Neerup Poker + Brebbia no.7

Saturday, 25 July 2015

RPGPundit Reviews: Calidar: In Stranger Skies

This is a review of the setting book Calidar: In Stranger Skies, by Bruce Heard.  It is a review of the print edition, published by "Calidar Publishing", featuring a softcover with a full-color cover of a flying galleon leaving a city port.

The book is 130 pages long. My review copy was accompanied by a pair of stunning full color maps (the kind that used to come in D&D-setting Boxed Sets), one featuring the larger setting and done in a style reminiscent of Forgotten-Realms maps, and the other of a more localized region of the big map, this one done in the hexmap format of all the great Mystara products of the old days.

The interior is mostly black and white with a few color illustrations.  The style and layout of the book is to me very reminiscent of later-era TSR products, specifically the Mystara Gazzetters and Forgotten Realms books, right down to the art style and coloration of paper.  The nostalgia is strong in this one.

And of course, there's good reason for that. Bruce Heard was one of several guiding lights of the old TSR Mystara setting.  Specifically, he was the guy who did the spectacular "Voyage of the Princess Ark" series that appeared for years and years in Dragon magazine, and who detailed some of the more peripheral and most fascinating places of the Mystara setting, the really weird locales that didn't make it into the main area of the GAZ series or boxed sets (at least until Heard's material was finally gathered together in a couple of boxed sets that proved to be the swan-song of the Mystara setting).  So I'm obviously pretty inclined to think well of his work; he was one of the best writers of my favorite D&D setting of all time, the one I spent more time running campaigns in than all the other D&D settings put together.  At a time when I never seriously imagined I'd ever get to do something as cool as write RPGs or have my own worlds published, he was like a celebrity superstar to me.

From what I understand (and the author may feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken about how this played out) the Calidar setting came to exist mainly because Heard spent some time trying to obtain permission from WoTC to write new material for the Mystara setting, but was ultimately denied that chance.  And Calidar is very obviously a setting heavily inspired by Mystara, and specifically by the part of Mystara he was best known for.

But does it stand on its own two feet, or it is just a pale imitation?  And does the product itself prove to be worthwhile? Let's find out.

OK, so taking it from the start: I get that Mr. Heard is a storyteller, and I surmise that this is something important to him.  I also get that a big part of the popularity of the Princess Ark series was the way that it told the tales of the Princess Ark's voyages (those of you who were around when it was being published in Dragon will recall that each entry took the form of an story accounting some adventure the Princess Ark crew went through on their travels, and then a section of setting material of the area they were travelling through).
But an RPG book is different from a serial in an RPG magazine, and I have to say I think it was something of a mistake to spend the first 51 pages of the Calidar book on a novellete.  In this case, it's his Princess-Ark-Substitute (the Star Phoenix) and its captain (Isledemer Drak Hieronymus d'Alberran).

Frankly, the story, while not bad, and providing a front-loaded set of literary details of the setting, does not really capture my imagination in the same way that it did all those years ago when it was the Princess Ark.  And it reduces a 130 page RPG-book into an 80-page RPG book with a 50-page block of game fiction at the very front. I don't think it was the right call for the format he's working in now.  If he really had to include fiction, it would have been better to have made it shorter, interspersed it with setting material, and probably to start with an introduction to the overall setting and then get into the story-time.

So, as to the game material itself:  what we get first is an overview of the entire solar system of the setting.  Yes, you are not only apt to have adventures on the titular Calidar, but also various other worlds, like Lao-Kwei, Canis Major, Draconia, or Ghule.  Most civilizations in the system have the ability to travel between worlds, by various methods (one example being the Calidarian Skyships).

Each of the major races of the setting have their own 'homeworld' of sorts.  Curiously, Calidar is originally the homeworld of the "fellfolk" (which are the halflings of the setting, which, much like the halflings of my DCC setting, are feral sharp-toothed barbarians); however Calidar has also long since had a region settled by offworlders.  The settled area is called the Caldera, and in a fit of cheekiness, Heard says that people describe this region as "Calidar's 'known world'".  Get it?

Calidar has three moons, and these were the actual original homeworlds of the humans, elves and dwarves.  The elves are kind of fascists, and "most skilled at deceiving others", so we're dealing with the "Asshole Elves" archetype here.  The Dwarves are a warrior culture that are now desperately looking for other races to fight, having unified their own world.  Humans have apparently wrecked the environment of their moon (*yawn* for stupid 1990s cliche), and are skilled at both diplomacy and warfare but are traders above all else.

As for the other worlds: Draconia is, you guessed it, homeworld to dragons.  Lao-Kwei is a mars-like world that was once prosperous but now has become a water-starved desert with some radioactive wastelands.  There's a native race ("Kahuulkin", who once had super-science but are now reduced to primitives), but it also has a longstanding population of races from the other worlds here.  I guess it's meant to be a cross between Barsoom and Dark Sun with a trace of Gamma World.

Canis Major and Felix Minor are dwarf planets, that have... wait for it... a population of doglike humanoids and catlike humanoids respectively.  I don't really have a problem with this, or with Draconia, since it's part of the whole dreamy PG rated simplistic-but-fun late-'80s/early-'90s fantasy style that Calidar is meant to recreate from Mystara; so much so that remember that Princess Ark also had dogmen and catmen.

Finally, Ghule is a giant dungeon-world created by outsiders and populated by goblinoids.  A 20000-mile-circumference dungeon, it orbits on an ellipse that brings it near to the other worlds only once every 5 years for about two months, during which time the goblins, ogres and trolls come out to raid and steal slaves and treasure.

Oh, and there's also the "Varangians", who are space-vikings that live on asteroids.

The metaphysics of the worlds themselves is also very interesting (and, I think, not in any way connected to Mystara, at least from what I recall of it): every world in the setting has a "world soul".  That is, the worlds themselves are alive and have a personality.  The health of a 'world soul' is entangled with the life on the world.  So Lao-Kwei, which is dying world, has a very poor world-soul.  The world-soul of Calidar is very strong, but feels under threat from those aliens who have been trying to settle and civilize it, and thus its unsettled areas are particularly savage as a protection. Only the area of the caldera is relatively safe.
Souls are linked to the world-soul on which they were born. So if you were born on one of Calidar's moons you'd be linked to that moon and return to that world-soul after death, but if your kids were born on Calidar they'd be linked to Calidar's world-soul.  People who were basically good, when they die, get united to the world-soul for a while and later reincarnate (unless you were really connected with one of the Deities, then you might go serve them instead).  People who did harm to the world-soul will end up with their souls trapped in a substance called seitha deep underground; this 'seitha' is also the fuel that powers Calidar's sky-ships.  Yup, the flying ships in Calidar run on the liquid souls of dead criminals. The undead are usually a result of curses or evil deeds in life,  and they crave seitha also, drawing out the material to feed and reproduce (which in turn harms the world soul); but if slain their souls become seitha.

Gods in Calidar were created by the belief of living beings; and gods need believers to keep existing. Also, epic heroes can start on the path to godhood as well, by gaining fame and having people believe in their legend (hmm, very much like being an "Immortal" is the endgame in Mystara). Gods get together in pantheons (which are apparently the divine equivalent of mortal cultures).  Pantheons help protect a God in the sense that they're more likely to keep being believed in as part of a Pantheon than off on their own, but the head of a pantheon also gets to claim one-tenth of every other member's power for himself.  Some gods have more than one name/visage and belong to more than one pantheon.  Nine deities are presented in the book, each with description and titles, divine domain, places worshiped, symbols, pantheon, and what he does for followers and for "priors" (that is, special servants).  There's Soltan who is the Sun of the solar system and oldest and mightiest of the Gods, whom many humans (including all those on the human-moon) venerate monotheistically. There's also Istra, goddess of adventurers; The Gate Keeper who is a deity that kidnaps people through cosmic anomalies and then sells them off to deities (who is explicitly described as being here as a method to bring in characters from other campaign settings over to Calidar); Delathien the hunter (head of the Elven pantheon); Khralia the All-mother who heads the dwarven pantheon; Odin - yes, that Odin - who of course is the chief god of the Space-Vikings (who Heard notes is not actually the Odin from earth, but came into existence when a group of Earth-vikings were brought to this reality by the Gate-Keeper); Sayble the dragon queen; and the Great Turtle (who rules the Lao-Kweian pantheon).

The section on the "world of Calidar" details in general terms the larger area of the planet, including a beautiful two-page planetary map spread in full color that covers the major terrain types and the wind currents of the planet, two polar maps also in color, and in more detail the area of the "Great Caldera" (again, with a two-page full-color map), the region that holds the civilized "colonial areas" settled by off-worlders. This includes Alfdein which are the elf-lands that have a variety of different elven states organized into a feudal confederacy; Araldur, which is a mountainous island held by the Dwarves; Belledor which is the last fellfolk holding in the Caldera where the natives are less feral and have taken on some "Calderan" customs; Caldwen whcih is a constitutional magiocracy (with shades of Alphatia and Glantri from the Mystara setting); Ellyrion, which is a theocracy that is considered heretical by the main faith in the human-moon of Calidar; the Emirates of Narwan, which is a dry land with an arab-style culture; Nordheim, which was settled by space-vikings; Osriel, which is a great merchant state; and Phrydias, which is populated by half-elves and is a semocracy (a state ruled by oracles).  You can certainly see various parallels toward a number of kingdoms found in the Known World of Mystara here.

There's also a lengthy timeline (5 pages worth) detailing the history of Calidar.

Finally, there's an even more detailed section on the island-kingdom of Meryath, which is the section taken up by the separate hex-style map that came with the product. This is a kingdom of adventurers, ruled by heroes, obsessed with dragon-slaying, and has aspects of Mystara's Karameikos.  Because of the dragon-slaying thing, Meryath has an ongoing conflict with the Knights of Draconia (evil human knights from the world of Draconia that serve Sayble the dragon-queen).

You get details on the four islands of Meryath, its size, population, economy, their calendar, military stats, local politics (Meryath has no aristocracy, instead that role is taken by popular local heroes), political circumstances, customs, and festivals.  You also learn about the local power of "Eternal Glory": just as belief grants gods power, heroes who gain great notoriety can become "epic heroes" and as a result cease to age.  Heard suggests a mechanic of "notoriety points", which would be awarded based on the successes or failures PCs have in their adventures.  Since spending a long time without adventuring can start reducing notoriety (and lead to a hero beginning to age again), there's a built-in motivation for even wealthy high-level characters to continue going out in search of new adventure and the fame that comes with it. Heroes that gain a truly great number of Notoriety Points could be on track for becoming demigods.

After this we get a set of descriptions (no stats included here, but added in a later section) of the crew of the Star Phoenix, from the novella at the start of the book.  It's about three pages, and then there's 3 pages of villains as well.  The former is I guess slightly useful for NPC purposes, but really only if you plan to specifically include the ship in your game.  The latter is at least a little bit more useful, if you want to know some potential significant bad guys. There's also descriptive information guilds & brotherhoods, like the Coral Ring (a native secret society), the Dragon Slayers (if you're a 'professional dragon slayer' you need to get a license from the Guild), the Soul-Eaters (which are a kind of Halfling-supremacist terrorist group), the Assassin's Guild (secretly controlled by the Draconic Knights), the Hall of Heroes (which is actually a government organization, as it is here that heroes vote to elect counts and monarchs and other important offices of this hero-cracy), the Ivory Tower (a kind of merchant's guild that wants to subvert the hero-cracy by getting important heroes into serious debt so they can control them), the Red Masque (a 'secret service' that protects the crown from subversive groups), the Royal Conservatory (which licenses actors, bards, printers, circus-folk and monster-handlers), the Seitha Constabulary (which control and regulate the trade in this valuable dead-criminal-soul-juice that powers the flying ships), and a couple of other politically-themed conspiracies.

Then we get an 11-page section on the city of Glorathon, the capital. Most of this section details sections/areas of this bustling port town.  We also get a lovely full-page full-color city map. Aside from the Skyport, this city could fit easily into the Forgotten Realms or most standard fantasy settings; the presence of the Skyport and it's general style however, makes it again most similar in my recollection to the cities of Mystara.  On the whole, the material on the city is more in the style of descriptive flavor than plot-hook or random-encounter type stuff.

There's also a section on "Creatures of Calidar", which is one area where we get into some serious creativity (not that the rest of the book isn't creative, it is, but it is laregely very similar to what one is already used to).  The monsters are not like what you find elsewhere: for example, the Draecan, which is a cross between a red drake and a pitbull. The Gron are these bizzare giant space-worms that the orcs of Ghule use as their interplanetary vessels. Giant Seagulls (I kid you not), which are large enough to cause trouble for skyships.  Merelings are hideous short humanoids which are artificially created by the rulers of Draconia from those who betray their rule.  Sewer Mouthers are sewer-dwelling giant carnivorous fungi.  And the Garnese Vultron is a kind of vulture-headed griffon.  The section itself only provides descriptive information on these monsters, but their stats, alongside those of the major NPCs from Heard's novella, are found in the very next section (the stats being provided for the Pathfinder system, the only part where the alleged system Calidar is made for actually rears its head).

This last section ends with the system license information, which gives the impression that the next part is a kind of appendix, but if so it's a pretty important one:  SKyships of Calidar.  This section provides details about how skyships work, how they navigate, and what the skyships from different worlds look like. Included in this are some spectacular deckplans (again full-page and in color) of some sample ships (Elven, Dwarven, a few human ships including a space-viking ship, and of course the Star Phoenix). There's also rules including speeds and maneuvering.  What is not included is any kind of ship-construction rule, detailed stats, or ship-combat rules. I suspect those are for some other Calidar sourcebook.

So, all in all, what can we say about Calidar?  I think that if you were a fan of Mystara, or for that matter Spelljammer, there's a lot to like here.  However, the material is also stretched quite thin for all that it wants to cover in so few pages.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, as there's tons of blank space a GM could creatively fill in if they wanted; and I presume the plan is for there to be more Calidar products in the future.
It's definitely the case that a lot of Calidar is imitative of Mystara and specifically of the Princess Ark stories, but it is not so much that the product would feel pointless.  There's plenty here that gives you a Mystara-esque world but with some of its own unique qualities.  You could certainly imagine it being part of the same "universe" as Mystara, but a different place at the same time.

The production quality is top-notch.
The writing is solid, but in my opinion having 50 pages of fiction was a bad call. I'd rather have had 10 pages of fiction and 40 more pages of setting material.

As a whole, Calidar is at this time a setting that demands a lot more material; I expect Mr. Heard will produce it shortly. But it's a good start.


Currently Smoking:  Mastro De Paja Rhodesian + Image Perique

Friday, 24 July 2015

Handling the History in Dark Albion

So Dark Albion is doing quite well, and getting some rave reviews.  Included in this is praise for how thorough the historical detail is in the game.
Said detail may in fact be more than some readers guess: obviously the timeline/chronology is historical, the NPCs are also historical; but what some readers might not immediately grasp is that the historical detail doesn't end there.  You might pick up that a lot of the information in the gazetteer of Albion and the lands of "the Continent" are full of historical detail, but it may be less obvious that the chapter on Law & Justice is based on real medieval concepts of crime and punishment, that the section on currency and equipment tries to be as accurate as possible based on known price lists of the period (which leads to what seem like some odd choices compared to the standard price lists of D&D equipment), and of course that the section on demonology is based on real ideas on medieval demon-summoning from the grimoires of the period.

Now, some people might be concerned that all this history is a bit of a double-edged sword.  In particular, at first glance the lengthy and detailed year-by-year history, and the chapter full of the noble houses and important members of those houses might seem a bit overwhelming, in terms of just how to manage it all as a DM.

(even the crests are are based on real history, and not just greyhawk-style stuff)

So, assuming most of you aren't blessed with a History degree, I'm going to give you a step-by-step set of pointers for how to manage all this without really having to get befuddled with too much historical detail:

1. look over the NPC section. Pay attention to the families with a lot of entries: the Lancasters, Yorks, Nevilles and Percy being the most important ones.

2. If you're playing in a specific region of Albion, read the Gazetteer section, and check out which nobles are important in that region. If you are playing a game where you're travelling around Albion, whenever the PCs go somewhere new, check out the names associated with that area.

3. If you're playing a game that moves along in the chronology, pay attention to the entries in the chronology and look up any names that you weren't already familiar with.

You do NOT need to learn every character from the NPC section, especially since depending on which year you're playing in some of them won't even have been born yet (or will already be dead)!
Just use it as a resource to look up as you go along.

If you're using the PDF, you can also presumably search the PDF by region in the NPC chapter, to catch any extra details.

Remember ultimately the NPCs are there to add flavor, not to get hung up on with their various subplots, unless you're running a campaign where the PCs are constantly hobnobbing with the nobility. Conversely, if you're running a game where the PCs are mostly low-lifes (at least, for now), you won't need to know anything except the royals and the pretenders and your local lord's family.

So there you go, it's pretty simple really: use what you want to use.  Don't sweat the rest!  Happy Albioning!


Currently Smoking:  Lorenzetti Solitario Rhodesian + Argento Latakia